New master plan will guide construction, renovation to meet needs of a growing campus


The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees has endorsed a campus master plan designed to closely link physical facilities of the university, including future construction and renovation, to goals of its recently approved strategic plan. The master plan is meant to provide “a flexible framework for growth,” said Keith Storms of Hanbury, Evans, Wright and Vlattas, a firm specializing in campus design and planning.

Master Plan Rendoring

The plan is based on enrollment projections that anticipate more than 11,000 students studying on the campus in Cullowhee by the year 2023, and the need for approximately 486,000 gross square feet of additional interior space to accommodate the needs of those students. Currently, about 7,800 students out of WCU’s official enrollment of 10,107 live and study in Cullowhee.

Highlights of the plan, which attempts to take advantage of natural synergies among academic programs without creating “academic silos,” include:

• Construction of a new science building of approximately 130,000 square feet that would replace the existing Natural Sciences Building and create a “science quad” by incorporating renovations to the existing Stillwell Building.

• Construction of a new building for the College of Business and additions to the existing Forsyth Building, which is home to most business programs.

• Consolidation of programs in the College of Fine and Performing Arts to new and existing space near the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

• Enhancing pedestrian connectivity across campus, especially between the academic center of campus and the historic area. The plan envisions a signature building located between the upper and lower areas of campus that would house existing programs in student engagement and related activities.

• Additional revitalization of the historic hill area of campus, including improvements in transportation flow and new residence hall and dining space for 300 additional students.

• Creation of a new main entrance to campus on N.C. Highway 107 that links the traditional campus with the newer West Campus, with a new visitor center and enhanced public parking for visitors attending fine arts, athletics and entertainment events at the Bardo Arts Center, Ramsey Regional Activity Center and athletics fields.

• Phased development of two buildings for private/public partnerships adjacent to the Health and Human Sciences Building on the West Campus while reserving steeply sloped land as an environmental preserve.

• Enhancing views of and recreational opportunities along Cullowhee Creek as it flows through campus by removing invasive vegetation, and using existing green space in the flood plain of the creek for recreation and athletics fields.

• Improvements to athletics facilities including a new field house, indoor practice facility and enhanced stands and a new press box on the west side of E.J. Whitmire Stadium.

• A possible mixed-use facility featuring dining and retail space on the ground floor and residential space on upper levels.

For more information, visit the Campus Master Planning website.